There’s a piece in the normally dreadful Kaplan “Outlook” comparing Bono to John Lennon. The gist of was that the most foremost politically-engaged star of that day espoused views that made him a target of the CIA while the foremost politically-engaged star of our day pals around with right-wing Senators and tours Africa with the Secretary of the Treasury.
I’m not generally interested in celebrity or in the endless look back in anger at how much everything’s gone to shit since the boomer hippies sold out, but I read this right after hearing the great Clash song “Washington Bullets”, which celebrates the Sandinista revolution, on the radio (a college station) on my way to work, and it struck me that something really has changed, culturally.
There was a time that cultural figures could take genuinely anti-establishment stances and be taken somewhat seriously. Nowadays, freaking Paul Krugman, a wealthy Nobel Laureate who loves NAFTA, is seen as an extreme hippie, not just by the Gergenites but by all the Snooze Hour-watching “liberals” I talk to.
I realize that there are plenty of stridently anti-establishment people out there, but there’s always a sense that they’re financially incompetent losers or drug addicts or that they’ve secretly sold out. In the free-wheeling marketplace of the blogosphere, many prominent bloggers dream of getting a gig with Kaplan corporation, while others issue Moore and Yglesias awards to laud those who mouth pro-status quo platitudes and criticize those who don’t.
It’s hard to escape the sense that something has been sold, and therefore lost.